1984/85 Tokai Hard Puncher

It's no secret how much we love vintage Japanese guitars around here and another one of the great Japanese manufacturers is of course Tokai. In the sixties they primarily made weird and wonderful shapes like the Hummingbird series, which I'm a HUGE fan of.

The brand is one of the older Japanese music manufacturing brands dating back to the 1940's but didn't start making guitars until the sixties. While well known for their amazing acoustics, by the early seventies they had joined the "copy race" with cloones of well known US brands. 

They are probably most famous for their Gibson Les Paul replicas which started out as with a (rather cheeky) name of "Les Paul Reborn" in the late 70's. These eventually turned in to the "Love Rock" by the early eighties. Some VERY big name players have used Tokai LP's over the years as touring guitars because of their amazingly high quality and accuracy.

Tokai also made, among a lot of other guitars, Fender copies under the names of “Springy Sound” or "Silver Star" for Strats and “Breezy Sound” for Teles. The basses in this series seem to be less well known and were the Hard Puncher (previously Pulser Bass) for the P bass and the Jazz Sound for the J.

 

This one is from around 1984/85 and is essentially a late seventies P bass replica. It's quality is, like a lot of Japanese manufacturers from this era, amazing. 

 

It's hard to pin down an exact month/year on these around this period but it has the block logo with the full T on the Fender headstock. Earlier ones had a spaghetti logo which Fender got upset about so it was changed to a block logo with a half T, which (unsurprisingly) Fender didn't like much either, so the "Tokai" was given a full T in an attempt to "compromise". Within a year or so the headstock shape was changed to a slightly less Fender shape. 

The body is a fairly light three piece solid timber with all the right contours and curves. The neck is a one piece rock maple neck with skunk stripe. It feels like a thick late seventies P neck and plays really well. The fretwork is great and the finish is superb on both body and neck and this one is in pretty nice condition with very little wear or marks.

 

The hardware is typical good quality Japanese hardware with no pitting or corrosion except on the knobs, which have oxidised slightly. The tuners and bridge are tight and work very well. The electronics clean and the pots feel great. Everything is original including the pickups which have great clear output. 

 

These are similar in quality and feel to early eighties Greco, Aria, Yamaha etc P bass copies with not much between the brands that were all fighting for a spot in that US copy market in Japan at the time. This bass is lighter than some I've played from this era and has great sustain and clarity.  

All in all it's a very nice vintage "P bass" for the money. And who wouldn't want a bass called a Hard Puncher?

Dec 15 2017 Written By: Tim Brennan